Intuitively a man knows when a woman can unravel him, regardless of what he tells himself. James Edwards, master of the Velvet Basement’s sensual and elite art of shibari rope, has kept the radiant and innocent Olive Thompson at a distance. For the longest time he’s maintained a constant vigilance, denial, and an endless hunger … until today.  Today he will steal a taste, something to remember after he walks away forever. Because who he is and what he wants are not for someone so pure. She thinks she wants him… she shouldn’t.

In her poor, coal stained world, Olive Thompson knows one thing for certain – Mr. Edwards is hers. When she’s with him, every part of her feels alive, as if a stream ran under her skin rippling with passion. She thrills to his scowls and moody temperament; because all the while his eyes burn into her like a starving wolf’s, eating her up with every glance. When he looks at her, a forbidden world glows in that gaze. She wants what he threatens, what he promises…no matter the price.




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“Elsa’s writing is so lush, it sweeps me away to another time and place…” ~ NY Times & USA Today Best Seller Kylie Scott, Stage Dive series

“The second book in Holland’s Velvet Basement series features two strong characters whose unconventional and passionate courtship will keep readers turning pages. Her incorporation of Shibari provides a unique, refreshing look at Victorian England and its interpretation of foreign cultures. This is no typical romance–readers should expect scenes involving BDSM–and Holland continues to surprise and delight.”~ RTBookReviews  4 STARS SCORCHER


“In The Bound Heart, the second book in The Velvet Basement series, Elsa Holland reaches far beyond the standard formula of romance yet her work is accessible and touching. Ms. Holland writes of extreme subject matter with a grace and subtlety that cannot be learned as shown in her portrayal of the lead characters unconventional deep-seated and beautiful courtship……” Jenerated Reviews– Book 2 of The Velvet Basement Series

“This is NOT your grandmother’s Victorian England era romance! Ms. Holland continues to amaze me in the boundaries she pushes in the historical romance genre. I was blown away with the first book and the second book is no different. She tackles a darker side of the Victorian romance, but not without delivering an HEA for which we long.”~ Amazon Reviewer, Jennifer G– Book 2 of The Velvet Basement Series


Here is a Pinterest board that reflects some of the ideas and mood as I was writing.

Q: What is one of the strongest influences in The Bound Heart?

I would say one of the major colours which permeate the story is Japonism.

Japonism is the influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetic on Western culture. Dates have it round 1854 – early 1900’s. It influenced the impressionists, and rolled into Art Nouveau and Cubism. Japan had been closed off from the world and ins seclusion for over 200 years, and in the Meiji restoration in 1868 opened itself up for trade and export. This opening rolled the immense beauty and aesthetic if Japanese culture into Victorian England, as well as other parts of Europe.

Richly coloured and embroidered Kimonos were made especially for the western market as well as the traditional Kimono and their more culturally true colours. Large golden and calligraphy screens, polished wooden chests or draws with black iron work, blue and white ceramics with motives reflective of the strong connection Japan has with nature and the seasons.


Q: How is this reflected in the book?

This Japanese aesthetic comes out in three core areas of the story.

Obviously in the shibari rope work that Jamie Edwards, our hero is a master of. In the Japanese features of Jamie’s house and the living habits that are part of his home. And finally in the clothing aesthetic as Olive starts to move into the life of an artist and bohemian and embraces the Kimono.

In many ways Olive is the one we journey with who embraces these Japanese influences with new and hungry eyes. Jamie was been exposed to it as a young man since he started to have contact with his now deceased teacher, Kobayashi-sensei. So he has found his place of being western and embracing and westernising Japanese influences. But for Olive this is all very new.

I see Olive in sensual fabrics and rich patterns and embroidered Kimono as part of Jamie Binding her and tugging the kimono’s open as the rope holds her captured in place. I see her experimenting with the kimono and Haora (short kimono jackets) and integrating them with her Victorian fashion. As she is exposed to Jamie’s crowd she enters a very bohemian world and not only finds her place in it but flourishes to find her unique talent / gift and the courage to embrace it.


Q: So how does the rope work fit into all of this? It just doesn’t seem like a black leather and ball gag type of setting?


No, no it doesn’t. I’ll be doing a more detailed post on shibari later. But what I am using in the book is some of the very decorative shibari. I have used licence here as it is unlikely that this type of rope work would have been practiced in the late 1900’s but the root of shibari had started by then. The decorative rope work I have seen and inspired me for the book, show cases the rope and the human form like works of art. There is still a strong sensual and sexual aura but not how many of us may initially imagine bondage to look like.

Here are some examples of decorative Shibari. I think you can see the very sensual nature of them. The book also has some suspension work and mat work with the rope. I hope that I have been able to capture this lush sensuality.



Snippet from The Bound Heart

This is near the beginning of THE BOUND HEART….

Olive has just come from her weekly visit to drop twine, cord and bookbinding supplies to Mr Jamie Edwards, the Bond Street Bookshop’s bookbinder. On her way out she slips down the back steps to the Velvet Basement, to see her worldly friend Evie, shop assistant at the illicit and opulent sex-hop housed below the bookshop.

“Now you, miss, should not stay here. And leave upstairs well alone. He’s not your type, trust me I would know.” Evie turned back to the counter and continued to order photos in a box.
What was her type? If she didn’t know how could Evie think she knew? The truth was that Mr Edwards was very much her type. Something about his reserve, the formal way he had, made her quake and warm up at the same time.
Evie glanced back over her shoulder and huffed at her.
“Thought so. You don’t believe me. All stars pouring out of your eyes like he was some lost prince that just needed the right woman to be happy.” Evie turned back to the box. “Let me show you what makes that boy happy.”
Evie’s fingers rapidly flipped through the box as flashes of flesh in all manner of situations flicked by. This was not a box of naked backs and bottoms. She pulled one, two, three items from the box and pushed it to the side. “Pay attention Olive.”
Olive’s heart started to beat faster and a current like the fast rivulets of rain running down glass planes seemed to be running under her skin.
Evie laid the first photo on the counter.
Olive leaned in closer, heat flashed hot and sharp in her belly. It was a woman over a man’s knee.
Close up, just as if the picture was taken from the man’s view looking down. The sepia tones of his dark suit and the light cream of the woman’s round bottom, full thighs and narrow waist. All naked. In the far right was his raised hand. The photo had some soft pink hand painted in a translucent water color over the woman’s bottom. The warm hot marks from the slaps. They glowed out of the photo in a way that made it hard to breathe.
“See that hand?” Evie’s voice was firm. “That is Mr. Edward’s hand, Olive. Mr. Edward sells these photos to the shop.”
Her heart beat hard in her chest. Mr. Edwards?
Olive went to speak but Evie interrupted her.
“There’s more.”